The benefits of transcendental meditation

Transcendental meditation is a type of meditation in which a person repeats a Sanskrit mantra, or saying, in their mind. This is a secular practice that requires taking lessons from an instructor. Hindu monk Swami Brahmananda Saraswati first popularized Transcendental Meditation in the United States through his disciple, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Some studies suggest that transcendental meditation can ease stress, reduce anxiety, and help with work challenges, such as compassion fatigue and lack of resilience. However, these benefits are not unique to transcendental meditation; other types of meditation have similar effects.

In this article, we provide more details about Transcendental Meditation, including the benefits and risks and how it compares to other types of meditation. We also explain how beginners can get started with this practice.

What is Transcendental Meditation?

Meditation is a practice that generally involves sitting quietly for a period of time to benefit the mind, spirit, body, or all of these. The method and purpose of meditation can vary depending on the type of practice someone has. In transcendental meditation, the goal is to reach a state of peace or “pure awareness”. Transcendental meditation consists of repeating in your head a mantra, that is to say an expression which has a particular meaning for the person concerned. The traditional language of this mantra is Sanskrit. In the middle of the 20th century, Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, began to promote transcendental meditation. He drew on Hindu principles to create a non-religious alternative to religious meditative practices.

What is Transcendental Meditation?

Transcendental meditation involves silently repeating a Sanskrit mantra to yourself for brief periods on a regular basis. In general, a person does this twice a day.

This type of meditation does not require any special equipment, breathing or movement. Unlike other types of meditation, it also does not require one to try to control or monitor one’s thoughts. Just focus on the mantra. You don’t have to have a particular belief system or lifestyle to practice Transcendental Meditation. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that some people are adopting other practices alongside it, such as Ayurveda, a traditional form of Indian medicine.

What are the benefits of Transcendental Meditation?

Many studies look at the benefits of meditation in general, but few focus specifically on Transcendental Meditation. Research looking at meditation in general suggests that some of the potential benefits include:

– reduced anxiety and stress
– a drop in blood pressure
– increased ability to tolerate pain
– help to quit smoking

Transcendental meditation offers several key advantages over other types of meditation. These advantages are:

– no mental effort
– no special equipment
– no religious philosophy
– the activation of alpha brain waves, which are associated with relaxation
– the cultivation of a happy, relaxed and focused mental state.

A small 2018 study used functional MRI to measure blood flow in the brains of 16 experienced practitioners of transcendental meditation. The study showed that participants had increased blood flow to regions of the brain associated with attention and executive functioning and reduced blood flow to regions associated with wakefulness.
This finding suggests that transcendental meditation can alter the brain in ways consistent with mindful attention and low anxiety.

A 2019 literature review of 21 studies identified various potential benefits of Transcendental Meditation, including:

– reduced anxiety and stress
– an increase in feelings of well-being and pleasure
– possible memory improvements.

A small 2019 study of 27 nurses concluded that transcendental meditation may also reduce compassion fatigue, which is a type of burnout that occurs in people whose role frequently requires them to offer emotional support and guidance. empathy to others. Nurses who practiced Transcendental Meditation saw an increase in resilience and a reduction in compassion fatigue.

Is transcendental meditation dangerous?

There is no evidence that meditation, including transcendental meditation, can cause physical health problems, as long as the person does not meditate in inappropriate circumstances, such as while driving. For some people, however, meditation can exacerbate pre-existing mental health issues. A 2017 survey of 342 people who meditate found that 25.4% of participants experienced at least one adverse effect, such as:

– symptoms of anxiety
– physical pain
– dizziness
– depersonalization, which consists of feeling disconnected from oneself, as if one saw oneself from outside one’s body
– derealization, that is to say the fact of feeling disconnected from one’s environment.

In most cases, these side effects are temporary.

People who experience unpleasant side effects while meditating may want to consider another meditation technique or try taking a break. It may be beneficial to speak to a mental health professional if the feelings persist.

How to Try Transcendental Meditation

People who want to try Transcendental Meditation should find a certified teacher. Indeed, according to the traditional method, a person must receive his specific mantra from a teacher. She must also practice repeating this mantra in Sanskrit under the guidance of the teacher. However, it is possible to try a style of meditation similar to transcendental meditation at home. To do this, a person must choose a word or phrase to use as a mantra. In a calm and quiet place, seated in a comfortable position, he should repeat the word, concentrating on him. People with busy schedules may consider setting a timer at the start of their practice. Regularity is an important aspect of the practice, so it can be helpful to meditate at the same time each day.

Comparison with other types of meditation

In addition to transcendental meditation, a person can try other types of meditation. These options include:

Compassion-Based Meditation: This approach focuses on encouraging loving and caring thoughts toward others or oneself, often using visualization or mantras. It is also known as loving-kindness meditation. A 2021 study suggests that this approach can help foster empathy and promote prosocial behavior.

Mindfulness meditation: This approach focuses on awareness and thoughtful attention to the present moment, often by encouraging breathing, noticing one’s surroundings, and performing grounding exercises. A 2021 study showed it could reduce emotional distress and distracting thoughts.

Yoga meditation: Yoga combines controlled breathing with movements and poses. It can alleviate emotional distress and certain types of physical pain.

Zen meditation: Zen meditation is inspired by Zen Buddhism. It consists of sitting in a specific position and regulating your breathing to cultivate attention. It may offer similar benefits to other types of meditation.


Transcendental meditation is a specific approach to meditation that involves repeating a Sanskrit mantra in your head. Unlike other types of meditation, it does not involve trying to control thoughts. However, to receive a mantra, a person must work with a teacher. This practice may provide similar benefits to other types of meditation, such as reducing anxiety and stress. However, as with other forms of meditation, it is also possible to experience negative emotions and sensations.

Transcendental meditation may be easier than other types of meditation for some people, but because it requires a teacher, it may be less accessible. People can try different techniques to see which works best for them.


Bonamer, J., et al. (2019). Self-care strategies for professional development: Transcendental meditation reduces compassion fatigue and improves resilience for nurses [Abstract].

Cebolla, A., et al. (2017). Unwanted effects: Is there a negative side of meditation? A multicentre survey.

Mahone, MC, et al. (2018). fMRI during transcendental meditation practice [Abstract].

Mosini, AC, et al. (2019). Neurophysiological, cognitive-behavioral and neurochemical effects in practitioners of transcendental meditation — a literature review [Abstract].

Roca, P., et al. (2021). Not all types of meditation are the same: Mediators of change in mindfulness and compassion meditation interventions [Abstract].

Sumantry, D., et al. (2021). Meditation, mindfulness, and attention: A meta-analysis.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the advice of a health professional.

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The benefits of transcendental meditation

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